Global Minds: A STEAM Summer Camp for Gifted Turkish Students

Updated: May 26, 2021

By Dana Asby, CEI Intern


In the summers of 2013 and 2014 at the University of Georgia, The Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development brought a group of gifted Turkish students to their campus for an inquiry-based STEAM summer camp experience, Global Minds. The camp introduced them to aspects of American culture, exposed them to an English-language environment, and challenged their critical thinking through interdisciplinary studies. Students aged 7-12 from the Gifted and Talented Education Center of Turkey (GTECT) in Instanbul came to Athens, Georgia for three weeks with to explore hands-on STEAM classes designed for gifted students. The Torrance Center worked closely with GTECT to deliver a tailor-made curriculum and accommodations on campus. I had the opportunity to help implement this STEAM camp in Turkey.

During Global Minds’ first year, students took classes such as:

  1. Secret Agent Scientist, where they learned about forensic science while solving a summer camp crime,

  2. Field Biology, where they explored the local habitats at various Georgia landscapes,

  3. Personality Psychology, where they learned basic psychological concepts and how to use them to better understand peers,

  4. Increasing Creativity, where they tried out various forms of creative expression, and

  5. Multiplicative Reasoning, where the underlying assumptions of math were examined from a philosophical perspective.

Many adults may think a summer camp curriculum like this better resembles an ambitious college freshman’s jam-packed first semester and question whether such a rigorous schedule is appropriate for elementary school students. For many gifted students, pushing their thinking is their greatest joy and summer camps like these can be the one chance per year they have to socialize with other kids like them who would rather discuss quantum physics than Pokemon.


Year 2: Nutrition Camp. For Year Two of Global Minds, we designed a STEAM-based summer camp

During the first week of camp, students used the information they were learning in class as well as some hands-on experience cooking and visiting kitchens to develop a recipe for a healthy but delicious food item to be sold at a festival to culminate camp. The next week, students used the skills they were learning in their business math class and some trips to a large chain grocery store and a small local food co-op to compare prices and decide which ingredients to buy and how much to charge to maximize customers and profit. Students learned how to create marketing campaigns during their arts-based classes in week three. Students also engineered original carnival games they charged customers to play during the end of camp festival.


Involving Parents. While the students enjoyed ice creams and parachute games between classes, those of us running the camp were able to have meaningful conversations with parents who were grateful that we had taken the time to design a special camp just for their exceptional children. They told us stories about traveling hours into Instanbul from their tiny towns once a month so that their child might get the chance to spend an hour with other exceptionally gifted children like themselves. Parents relayed stories of giving their child every opportunity to learn, because that was the only thing that brought them joy.

Needs for Gifted Education in Turkey and Internationally

Turkish citizens are beginning to understand  the importance of gifted education in cultivating the talents of these impressive children. However, there is currently no teacher training for giftedness and inadequate policies to uphold gifted students’ right to a fair education. (Gucyeter, Kanli, Ozyaprak, & Leana-Tascilar, 2017). I’m thrilled to have been able to bring some gifted Turkish students a summer camp experience that none of us will forget.

Globally, the awareness of gifted education, along with its benefits and necessity, is increasing. There are now members of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children from over 70 countries (WCGTC, 2018). Many of these countries are in the nascent stage of developing their gifted education systems and operate independent gifted centers with varying opportunities. From what I saw and the discussions I had with others, there is significant interest in countries around the world who could use the help that the Torrance Center provided to start-up similar programs.  Designing and planning a summer camp experience takes months of planning, collaboration, and coordination, but the joy of introducing young children to a new culture and language while challenging their thinking through fun, multidisciplinary classes is worth every minute.

References

Gess, A.H. (2017). STEAM education: Separating fact from fiction. Technology and Engineering  Teacher, 39-41.

Gucyeter, S., Kanli, E., Ozyaprak, M., & Leana-Tascilar, M.Z. (2017). Serving gifted children in developmental and threshold countries’”Turkey. Cogent Education, 4(1).

World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. (2018). Join WCGTC. WCGTC website.

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